On a cold day in January 2005, I flew a Cessna 152 to Indiana for my “check ride,” which is the final pilot’s license exam administered by an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner. My friends and family had no idea why I needed the license, and honestly, I had no plan. I just loved the feeling of being in the air, listening to amazing music and marveling at the scenery.

When I’d land, I had no way of describing my experiences of the drop of a song timed to the most amazing reveal shot of a skyline, or the serenity of flying over a frozen landscape, or the incredible bursts of warm color of autumn trees from 5,000 feet up. I couldn’t capture the moment in the air; I could only reminisce about the infinite freedom of the open skies.

In 2012, I picked up a video camera. I wanted to tell stories, and I started Chicago Creative Space. Since launch, we’ve worked with amazing brands like Google and Capital One and I have been incredibly lucky to meet the people I’ve met and have the experiences I’ve had over the last few years. But something was still missing – those moments in the cockpit, seeing the landscape unfold before my eyes with an amazing soundtrack.

That changed in the fall of 2015, when I bought the DJI Inspire 1 drone. For the first time, I could actually capture the shots I’d envisioned in my head for the last decade. I could finally share with the world what I saw when I closed my eyes. The learning curve was steep – flying the aircraft while controlling the camera wasn’t exactly a natural skill. But damn, was it worth it. I couldn’t believe the footage I saw.

I’ve had plenty of close calls, from losing the signal with the drone 500′ feet away to almost losing the drone itself while taking off from a boat (shout out to Rich Santo for that ridiculous day), but it was all worth it in the end, and getting my FAA Part 107 remote pilot license was the final step in ensuring I can share my footage with the world.

This video is a compilation of some of the footage I’ve captured over the last year, from Lake Michigan to Lincoln park, from Elgin to Buffalo Grove. Hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did.